Newsletter 20th January 2019
Back to ordinary time once again with Green vestments. Today counts as the second Sunday of the year. The readings are taken from cycle C.
The gospel today gives the wonderful story of the marriage feast at Cana. During the rest of the year, the readings will be taken from Luke’s gospel.
Monday is the feast of St. Agnes – so remember to read your poem from Keats this evening……
Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers while he told
His Rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem’d taking flight for heaven…..
On Thursday, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the saintly Bishop of Geneva, on Friday the Conversion of St. Paul and on Saturday St. Timothy and St. Titus, the two disciples of Paul to whom he sent his pastoral epistles.
A busy time of the year – education meetings on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and to Canary Wharf for an investment meeting on Tuesday. The future seems most uncertain for investments – more difficult than I can ever remember it – so I am being very cautious at present – working to preserve capital rather than hoping for any increases in the market.
The Church heating boiler is working well with a great saving in fuel. The old boiler used to guzzle up gas and the monthly bill has been reduced considerably. I try to keep the Church reasonably warm but the thermostat control is not easy and it is taking a little time to work it out.
Monday week I am off to the South of Spain to visit the English Chapel at Sanlucar de Barrameda, for which I hold the legal powers. Those of you who have visited our College at Valladolid will know about the Vulnerata, the mutilated statue of Our Blessed Lady kept above the High Altar. The mutilation took place during the siege of Cadiz in 1596 and the statue came to our College in 1600. Recently we have made an exact replica of the statue and this has been visiting some of the Churches in Southern Spain. Currently it is in the Church at Sanlucar.
Now some useless information. The Ju52 which appears in the film “Where Eagles Dare” is not a German aircraft. It was built as late as 1954 under licence (from whom?) in Spain. It was used by the Spanish Air Force and sold to a private buyer. At the time of the film, it was registered in Switzerland – and has since appeared in a number of films. Broadsword to Danny Boy.
You are going to need a recipe, but possibly this might wait for the summer. Liquidize some ripe tomatoes with a green pepper and add some garlic, sherry vinegar, some bread and some salt. Chill thoroughly. Serve adding some olive oil, chopped serrano ham, chopped tuna, hard boiled eggs and chopped tomato to taste. The mixture should be fairly thick and rich. In Spain this is known as Salmorejo.
A prayer for today:
Light of the world, Lord Jesus Christ, shine on us that we may walk steadily today in the path of life; give light to our minds and warmth to our hearts that your light may shine out in all we do and say.
You will probably have noticed that the hinges on the glass doors to the entrance of the Church are showing signs of wear. I am seeing if they can be renewed, but it is quite a difficult task as these are out-dated items and it is not easy to find replacements.
I think some of you will know about the cushion made from the fabric originally used for the seats of Routemaster buses. An item of great interest and visitors have to be asked if they can identify where it came from.
Best wishes to you all
Monsignor Nicholas Rothon
2nd Sunday of the year 2019.
Normally, during the course of this year, the gospel reading will be taken from Luke – but today at the beginning of the year, we have a reading from John with his account of the miracle at the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee – John only mentions seven miracles in his gospel – and this one has a special importance – he says – this was the first of the signs given by Jesus – he let his glory be seen and his disciples believed in him.
There has been some discussion as to the exact location of Cana – but nowadays it is generally recognised as the village known as Kafra Kana, about 7 kilometres from Nazareth on the road to Tiberias – there is still a small village there today – set in the rolling farming countryside – so it would be quite natural for Mary to have friends there and to be invited to the wedding – he gospel makes the comment – Jesus had been invited with his disciples – a suggestion that possibly a few were expected – but the family were somewhat overwhelmed by the numbers who arrived – leading to the lack of wine – Jewish wedding feasts were celebrated with many rituals and could last from three to eight days – according to the circumstances of the family – it would be a spectacular event, with many happy memories that the couple would be able to recall for the rest of their lives – but in contrast – a disaster if the wine ran out – something that would be remembered – a story to be told for the rest of their lives – The story has portrayed many times in paintings – the most famous is the Veronese, stolen from Venice, and now in Paris – there is one I remember especially, by Vermeyen in Amsterdam, which shows the attendants in the foreground whispering about the problem – the bride is thrilled by the events of the day and is totally unware – but the groom, in the middle of telling a story, shows a moment of hesitation and apprehension as he realises that something is going wrong.
In the Brothers Karamzov, Aloisha describes this as “the first, the kind miracle, when Christs Joins in human happiness, not sorrow. Thinking about this, the majority of the miracles described in the gospels – refer to the relief of human suffering – the lepers, the blind, the deaf and dumb, even raising to life – miracles of care and of healing. But this is very different – it is as if the Lord Jesus is sharing in human life, in human events in every way and he wants to make sure that the enjoyment will continue – some of the wines from rural Galilee can be thin and sour – but in the miracle, these are replaced with a fine wine – as the groom tells the steward – you have kept the best wine till now. As with the wine, the story of the miracle is rich.
Certainly this event made a deep impression on the apostles – as the gospel explains – he let his glory be seen. – it comes at the beginning of John’s carefully constructed story – which reaches its conclusion – these signs are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing this you may have life through his name.
This is the miracle in its scriptural context, but also it has a special symbolism pointing to the Sacraments of the Church – at Cana the Lord will turn water into wine, but at the Last Supper, with words of consecration, the wine will become the blood of Christ. Over the years, many prayers have compared the event at Cana to the mystery of the Eucharist.
And then also a reference to the Sacrament of marriage – nowadays couples are able to choose the Scripture readings that are used at their Nuptial Mass – and frequently they choose this gospel story – for there is the special phrase at the beginning of the reading – there was a wedding – and Jesus had been invited – it is a special way of recognising that marriage is one of the Sacraments of the Church – certainly in most traditions, it has a formal legal, part, – but there is something more – Christ is present in the Sacrament to bless and inspire the husband and the wife if their future married life. So a day for all married people to celebrate as they recall this gospel story.
It is just possible that you may be keeping a dry January – but again possibly, a reason to celebrate today – you have kept the best wine till now.